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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Kelsee's Purse thrift shop, Citrus Heights
Nina Cherry helps customer Renee Blanchard with getting items into her vehicle during the last week of business for the struggling thrift shop. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
After three years in business and toughing it out through pandemic shutdowns, construction projects, and flooding, Kelsee’s Purse is closing its doors for good. The thrift shop’s final day is Saturday, January 15.

The Sentinel spoke with owner Ildiko Carpenter during the last week of business for her store, and Carpenter said the main reason for closing is a lack of revenue to pay rent and other expenses.

“Our lease is up at the end of the month, and we already owe back rent,” said Carpenter. “I just can’t keep going further into debt. If we were making more, we might stay, but it just hasn’t happened.”

She said the property management company might have been willing to re negotiate better terms, but after a broken pipe that flooded their store over the summer and another incident where water from a construction accident next door seeped under the wall, Carpenter wasn’t willing to sign on for another term.

“They said they might be offering more reasonable terms if we had a renewal coming up. But because of the problems we’ve had, we’re not really interested in staying.”

Carpenter told The Sentinel in previous interviews she saw a drop in traffic during the construction of the Starbucks, and another decrease when Planet Fitness began construction on an expansion next door.

Also on The Sentinel: Five businesses Citrus Heights said goodbye to in 2021

Last December, a “secret Santa” had two large banners printed and hung on the construction fencing next door, with one banner pointing a large arrow to the thrift shop to raise visibility. The effort did bring in a few shoppers, but it was too little too late for Carpenter.

Nina Cherry, a friend of Carpenter’s, was working the counter during the final week, and told The Sentinel Wednesday there was initial optimism after the business got off to a slow start before the pandemic.

“I felt like we had a really good groove going up to COVID,” Cherry said. “We were really excited because Starbucks was coming, and we knew that would bring traffic. And then the world just kind of fell apart.”

Cherry said customers have reacted with disappointment at the news of the closure, some even becoming emotional.

“Some of the regulars have cried,” Cherry said. “A lot of them depend on us for a low-income store. It’s their life, and now suddenly there’s not going to be anything around for them. The Dollar Tree doesn’t serve their needs.”

One of those regulars is Renee Blanchard, who told The Sentinel she had been coming to Kelsee’s Purse ever since they first opened.

“Terrible, terrible,” she said of the news the store is closing. “It’s convenient, they’re very nice people, they’ve always treated me with respect. My back is broken in four places, so they load everything up for me.”

Blanchard said she has had other health problems, and the staff at Kelsee’s Purse kept her purchases for several months until she was able to come back to the store and pick them up.

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For Carpenter, she is grateful for the support she has received from the community over the past few years.

“We’ve had so many great experiences with customers,” said Carpenter. “A lot of people have told us that’s their happy place, or that’s their therapy or their sanctuary. I don’t know how many people started crying when we told them we were closing.”

Kelsee’s Purse is located at 7044 Sunrise Blvd., suite 1. Hours posted for the store’s final week are Monday-Friday from 2-6 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

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